As is the case for most rookies, Brandon Ingram has had his share of ups and downs for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. After a rough stretch that saw him go five straight games without reaching double-figure points, including two straight scoreless games, Ingram has turned it around recently.
Over the last three games, Ingram is averaging 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists while shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from three-point range. On Friday night, however, he faces one of his toughest challenges when he matches up with Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
‘The Greek Freak’ is one of the most versatile players in the NBA and someone who Ingram has drawn comparisons to. After practice on Thursday, Luke Walton spoke about Ingram hopefully evolving into a similar player via Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com:
“We don’t want him to be just a scorer or just a playmaker,” Walton said of Ingram. “We wanted him to be one of those guys who, literally by being on the court, winds up with blocks, steals, rebounds, points and assists.
“Just being all over the floor. That’s our mission for what he’s going to be.”
If Ingram could become anything close to the player that Antetokounmpo has become than the Lakers will have found themselves a truly foundational piece for the franchise. Next weekend Antetokounmpo will start his first All-Star Game, and his stat line reflects his versatility as he is averaging 23.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.7 steals, and 2.0 blocks.
Ingram will have his work cut out trying to contain him, but to his credit, the rookie has stepped up when facing some of his better competition. His recent game against the Carmelo Anthony, the first following Luke Walton’s move to youth in the starting lineup, was excellent. Additionally, his showing against Paul George and the Pacers saw Walton proclaim that he was the best player on the floor at times.
The potential for Ingram is through the roof as he has shown flashes throughout the season. There have been games where he shined as a rebounder, passer, scorer, and defender. Walton is hoping that he will begin showing all of those skill in the same game regularly. Hopefully, that time comes sooner rather than later.